Recently I was at a sporting event and noticed that our team was chanting during a tournament.
My name is ____ and guess what I got? (what do you got) I got a team that’s hotter than hot.
How hot is hot? Grand slams and home runs too, (so what’s your point) we’re going to beat the whoopsies outta you, (yea you yea you, the whoopsies outta you)
It was a regular ol’sports chant…but while watching the field, I noticed the third baseman was intently listening as the girls chanted. She had tears rolling down her face…I made a comment about how I didn’t know if the chanting was necessary…and a momma nearby responded, “It’s called competition.” <<insert big eyed emoticon here>>
Now…first, let’s pause and commend me for not saying anything back. The score was 16-0…us. The girls? On an 8U team. Not necessarily playing to be in the World Series here. Given the score…what an opportunity to teach our girls not only know how to be gracious winners, but to appreciate that sometimes THEY could be on the opposite side of that uneven score. Our district theme next year is going to be on achievement and the role competition can play…I’m hoping my campus twist can be on that side of the message.
While competition makes us stronger (as evidenced by “Top Dog” a great read if you’re looking for one!) I struggle as a mom and an educator with that line between passion and pushing. Who owns the passion for a sport (or class, or hobby, or task)…is it the child? Or the parent? (or coach, or instructor, or leader?) Is it an age thing? A level thing? A boy/girl thing?
Here’s what I know…we spend our days teaching children to be respectful, to be courteous, to be kind. Then we put them in circumstances and situations where aggression and winners/losers are defined…which in a sports setting can be appropriate. (Hello…@8amber8, I’m a huge sports girl!!) but I struggle with the line. But is it? In 8U sports? In 7th-8th grade volleyball? In the classroom?
Knowing that a coach, (especially a competitive male coach!) is going to have a different lens on this experience…I’ve asked Coach Lionel Wrenn, who coaches football and girls basketball to co-write this post with me. I have a 16 year old…her “passion” fluctuates with the what seems like the seasons in a year. When I saw her sports “passion” wavering…I was disappointed, I was sad…but mostly I was confused. How do you, as a parent, maintain fidelity to your child’s best interests? Do YOU push them? Do you let them bounce from one thing to the next? Do you trust/expect a coach to help ignite that passion, or maintain it? If it wavers, was it really ever a passion?
Mom-ing is hard, ya’ll. And I bet Coach Wrenn will tell us that coaching isn’t even easier.
As a high school coach coaching male and female sports at a competitive level the passion should lie mutually between the athlete and the coach. As a coach, you can only prepare the athlete for the battle, but you can’t win it for them. You can call all the right plays but the athlete has to trust the coach and take it upon themselves to carry out the play successfully. As a coach you try to motivate your athletes to the best of your ability, push them to be their best but at the end of the day the athlete has to want it. It is easy to spot the athlete that has the “it” factor, the one that is willing to do whatever it takes and clearly has the passion deep within. While having amazing coaches and great parental support is beneficial, at the end of the day it is up to the athlete.
In regards to the chanting, I do not support nor promote any chanting or negative forms of communication towards the opponent. I want my athletes to prove themselves through their skills and grit. I always say, let your play do the talking and keep your mouth shut but I do encourage my players to be excited and support their teammates. Not every coach shares this philosophy so when my players are being ostracized or targeted I remind them that this is a tactic used to get inside their heads and bring the morale of the team down. If they fall into the trash talking trap, I immediately remove them until they can refocus their energy back to the game.
As a parent, including a high school student, I think kids should be exposed to a variety of sports or activities at a young age. They should have the experience and opportunity to decide which sport/activity they prefer and feel most confident in. With that said, if at some point the passion fades they do need to finish that season (I won’t allow my child to be a quitter). As a coach we encourage athletes not to quit mid-season, but of course, life happens and sometimes kids just decide to take a different path and call it quits. Passions and interests change, especially as teens are trying to discover who they truly are. Parents, teachers, and coaches lack the ability to force passion into an athlete, sometimes much to our dismay. The high school years are a time of growing and learning about one’s identity apart from family ideals. Too often we see students playing sports only to appease their parents and it usually ends up hurting the program because the passion is not there, and as a coach, it can become frustrating.
In a successful program, athletes will tend to be more committed. Part of our jobs as coaches is to help athletes understand the mental obstacles that occur with losing, much like the adversity of life.
I’ve had the benefit of having a daughter play under Coach Wrenn and know that I probably made his life incredibly stressful. there’s a fine line in supporting/encouraging/motivating your teen…and seeing her give less than her best. As a slightly competitive person (cough cough cough) watching someone you love NOT feel the same is hard. I’m thankful for people who push, but don’t break. Who love, but don’t coddle. Who coach, and open to coaching mommas too. #allthethings I’m thankful for Coach Wrenn and his program, in addition to him taking the time to co-write this with me! Give him a follow at @LionelWrenn!
Passion supportN &